July 28, 2020, by Lisa Chin

Managing research students’ progression

This post is contributed by Dr Tissa Chandesa, Research Training Development Manager at the Graduate School.

At the University of Nottingham, all research students follow a series of monitoring and assessment and throughout their period of supervised study to ensure acceptable performance. The university requirements (i.e. Supervision reporting, Annual Review) are common to all research students and all years of registration, while external funder requirements (i.e. milestones and reports) are determined on a case-by-case basis set out in the Memorandum of Agreement.

On 22 July 2020, Graduate School conducted the Supervisory Research Seminar Series: Managing Research Students’ Progression. This webinar was jointly conducted by Dr Michelle Tan and Ms Nengaswary Maniam. Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s webinar was divided into two parts: (1) managing the university’s research degree requirements & (2) managing the project’s requirement. The two-hour session aimed to share information on research supervisors’ role in meeting the university requirements and project management requirements to ensure satisfactory progression and completion of research projects. Case studies involving common scenarios was also highlighted and discussed. A total of 13 supervisors attended the webinar.

During the first hour of the webinar, Dr Tan who is the Chair of Faculty Research Operating Group (FROG) addressed the following issues:

    1. Understand the importance of monitoring research student’s annual progression

    2. Understand the key stages of research students annual review process

    3. Understand the roles and responsibilities of key parties (students, supervisor, internal assessor) in ensuring satisfactory progression

    4. Practice finding solutions to common progression issues through practical case studies

During the session, Dr Tan also addressed several enquiries pertaining to processes/policies involved to: (1) a research student intending to extend their research study into the 4th year; (2) a research student who is pregnant; (3) changing a research student’s registration status (full time to part time/part time to full time).

According to Professor Deborah Hall (Vice Provost for Research and Knowledge Exchange):

At UNM in 2020 we have about 145 active research collaboration, contracts and consultancy projects. The government in Malaysia is increasingly concerned about delayed or failed delivery of research project deliverables – since 2020, project performance is monitored thorough MyRA. Of the 120 research collaboration projects at UNM, one third (40) had extended the end date, many even before the MCO. Of the 25 research contracts and consultancy projects at UNM funded by external organisations, 80% are red-flagged indicating some query on project management needing to be resolved.

As a result, during the second hour of the webinar, Ms Maniam who is a Manager at Research Knowledge Exchange Hub addressed the following issues:

    1. Understand the importance of external funder requirements

    2. Familiarise yourself with good project management (e.g. Gantt charts, Risk management, and regular project management meetings)

    3. Understand how to respond to unforeseen challenges, such as COVID-19, that jeopardise original objectives and timelines

    4. Practice finding solutions to common project management issues through practical case studies

The session was very engaging and interactive. Below is some feedback received from the attendees:

    • The talk by Eeish (Ms Maniam) has made me realised the different aspects to project management. I find this is especially useful for ECRs who are managing project grants for the first time.

    • An overview of the status quo was clear.

    • Tissa did a very good job at moderating the session – well done!

    • Good – clear and easy to follow

    • It is effective given current constraints imposed by the coronavirus

    • Not as effective as in-person workshops. Not quite easy to keep ourselves engaged, but this is probably the best we can get at this extraordinary time

About Supervisory Research Seminar Series

The Supervisory Research Seminar Series is aimed at all active research supervisors, especially early career researchers who are new to research supervision at University of Nottingham Malaysia. The landscape of research supervision is constantly shifting; from changes in policy through to new and different models of doctorate, the expectations of funding bodies to the expectations and capabilities of research students. Navigating these differences and knowing the best thing to do for all concerned is not always straightforward, even for experienced supervisors. The sessions cover topics that have been highlighted by supervisors as areas where they would like more advice and practice-sharing opportunities. These sessions aim to support a culture of the discussion of research supervision purpose and practice across the University and inform staff on a wide range of supervision topics.

The next session will address the topic of contemporary issues in supervising research students by Professor Chung-Lim Law. It is scheduled for Wednesday 29 July 2020 from 2pm – 4pm via Microsoft Teams.

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Contact us

If you have any suggestions or would like to lead a supervisory research seminar series session, please contact Dr Tissa Chandesa, Research Training Development Manager at Tissa.Chandesa@nottingham.edu.my.

For any queries, please contact us at RAD@nottingham.edu.my.

Posted in News and EventsResearcher Development